It may not be the oldest volume housed in the temperature-controlled room — that honor belongs to a book of sermons published by a Franciscan monk in 1495 — but it has an unusual story behind it, said Natalie Long, Director of Library Services.
Recent graduate Craig Krueger and sophomore William Puestow discovered the book, “Philosophies at War,” in the library stacks. What they found inside made them sit up and take notice.
The author of the book is Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, who died in 1979. He was best known for his Emmy Award-winning television program during the 1950s, which made him a fixture in homes across the country.
“He was one step away from canonization, but there’s a dispute over where his body should be buried,” Long said.
The inside first page of the book contains Archbishop Sheen’s signature and an inscription to Mother Generose Cahill, first president (1935-1939) of what was then Holy Family College.
The inscription reads: “Mother Generose, a Rose in God’s Garden with The Blessing of The Author, Fulton J. Sheen.”
This volume is a first edition, published in 1943. It offers Archbishop Sheen’s perceptions on the underlying causes of war.
Published during World War II, the book was “Manufactured under wartime conditions in conformity with all government regulations controlling the use of paper and other materials,” it says inside.
“The book was presented as a gift to the library from Mother Generose on Jan. 24, 1944,” Long said.
It’s been on the shelves since. Until Krueger and Puestow petitioned to have the book placed in the Rare Book Room, that is.
Now it has a fitting new home.